Northampton WWII veteran who was involved in liberating Denmark recalls celebrations in the street – Hugh ended up watching England winning the World Cup with Danish friends he made after VE Day
A Second World War veteran who was in Denmark when the end of the Second World War was announced is recalling memories as the 75th anniversary approaches.
Hugh Adams, who is now 96, was part of the Royal Dragoons, the regiment that was responsible for liberating Denmark three days before VE Day.
As the war was drawing to a close, there were tens of thousands of German soldiers in Denmark and it was Hugh’s regiment that was tasked with liberating them.
Hugh with the President of Danish Rotary at the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of VE Day.
The great-grandfather-of-four said: “We travelled through northern Germany and some of the towns were in complete devastation. They were really badly damaged and it was a startling experience to witness that.
“I even got some poor shots on my little camera as we went through.
“As we arrived in Copenhagen on May 4 I was driving the jeep. Half of Copenhagen were on the streets.
“The reception we got was something that I shall never forget.
“It was so different to anywhere we had seen in the previous six months.”
On the night of the liberation on May 5, 1945 Hugh and his regiment stayed in Copenhagen before travelling to Odense, the following day where they remained for the summer.
Hugh added: “My regiment moved back to Odense where we spent the summer and looked after the repatriation of Germans in Denmark.
“Germany was keen on looking after Denmark because it was a source of food.
“They called it the land of milk and honey.
“We made friends with Danish people and got to know quite a lot of the resistance people who did a fantastic job.”
As the liberation of Denmark happened a number of days before the end of the war was announced, VE Day was not as iconic for the Royals.
“VE Day brings back memories and so forth, but I was actually back in Odense in a school when the news broke through the radio that war was over,” Hugh continued.
“It was, to me, a bit of an anti-climax after the excitement of liberating Denmark days earlier.
“Obviously we celebrated then with the Danish people who were wonderful and it was a great experience.”
Hugh, who still lives at the family farm in Nether Heyford, was granted an early repatriation in the September of 1945, due to his family’s important work.
“We were short of food after the war and my family were farming so I needed to get back to help with that,” he said.
“I was 21 when I was demobilised and I settled in Northampton where the family farm was and that was my career from then on.
“That was the end of my connection with the army until 50 years later when we went back to celebrate.”
Hugh married in 1950 and also kept in contact with some of the Danish people he made friends with.
The veteran and his family went back to visit Denmark 21 years after the war ended.
“I stayed with a delightful family with whom I had befriended in 1945. They were all very musical and we sang all the old wartime songs and drank lots of Schnapps,” Hugh added.
“We also watched England win the football World Cup on their television.”
Hugh, who is one of the founding members of Northampton West Rotary Club, also visited Denmark again, alongside many other British veterans, in 1995 when the people of Denmark invited them to celebrate the 50th anniversary of VE Day.
Published in the Daventry Express – Monday May 11th 2020